Safe Sleep: Why you shouldn’t take naps on the couch with your baby

A quick nap on the sofa with your newborn might seem innocuous, but new research on sleep-related infant deaths suggests otherwise. A high percentage of these deaths occur on sofas.

The study, published in the journal Peadiatrics, found that almost 13 percent of all sleep-related infant deaths happen when babies are napping on a sofa with an adult. These figures were calculated based on data on infant deaths from 24 states over eight years. One of the reasons given for this high percentage is that infants found on sofas were more likely to be placed face-down or on their side than babies put to sleep in other locations.

Feeding baby on the couch is a quotidian event for many parents. But if mum or dad dozes off while holding their baby (not unlikely given the customary lack of sleep), the consequences can be serious.

It’s easy for a newborn to suffocate on the soft surface of the sofa, especially if she’s placed face-down on her tummy. Some couch surfaces also slope down toward the back cushions, making it easy for a tiny baby to roll back and get wedged between the seat and back-supporting surface.

Here are a few tips to provide the safest sleep environment for your baby:

  • Never put your baby on the couch for a nap.
  • If you’re notably tired, feed your baby on a glider or chair instead of the couch.
  • Place your baby on her back in her crib for naps and nighttime sleep.
  • Keep bumpers, blankets, fluffy bedding, and stuffed animals out of the baby’s sleeping environment.
  • Feet to the bottom of the cot.
  • No smoking around baby or baby’s belongings

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